TRIBUTES have been paid to an internationally-renowned wine expert who has lost a 15-month battle with cancer.

Hampshire hotelier Gerard Basset was a former world champion sommelier and the only person to hold three major titles simultaneously - Master of Wine, Master Sommelier and MBA (Wine).

Gerard, 61, co-founded the highly-successful Hotel du Vin group and later ran the award-winning Hotel TerraVina in the New Forest.

His death is another devastating blow to his wife Nina, whose mother also died of cancer last month.

She said: “Whilst we are devastated to have to say goodbye to Gerard for the last time we draw strength from the kind messages we have already received from the many people whose lives he touched.

“He fought a brave battle against cancer and we are comforted that he died at home, surrounded by his family, and that he is now at peace.”


Referring to the couple’s son she added: “Both Romane and I are profoundly grateful for the support we have received from our friends across the world, including many in the wine and hospitality industries, and to know that Gerard was so loved by all those who knew him.”

A statement issued on behalf of the family described Gerard as one of the world’s greatest wine professionals.

It added: “The crowning glory of his career came in April 2010 when he won the World Sommelier Championship, cementing his extraordinary domination of the industry.”

Gerard was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus in October 2017.

His illness became public after Nina wrote a blog to explain his absence from the Hotel TerraVina, which the couple started running in 2007.

Speaking at the time she told the Daily Echo: “Gerard began to experience back pain and thought he’d pulled a muscle, but it didn’t go away so he went to see a doctor.

“When he received the diagnosis he took it brilliantly and tried to remain as positive as he could.”

Nina and Gerard Basset, owners of the Hotel TerraVina.Nina and Gerard Basset, owners of the Hotel TerraVina.

Last year it was announced that Hotel TerraVina was being turned into a boutique B&B to give Nina more time to look after him.

Born and brought up in France Gerard originally trained as a chef but embarked on a career as a sommelier after moving to the UK in the 1980s.

He won a fistful of awards and triumphed at the 2010 World Sommelier Championships in Chile. The following year he was awarded the OBE for services to the hospitality industry.

A small, family funeral will be followed by a memorial service in London in the spring.